Are you considering purchasing a wireless router but you already have wired router installed on your network? Most people do not even know the difference between a wireless router and a wireless access point. Well, the differences are just that one is actually a combination of a router that can control firewall rules and the other is installed behind a router to allow wireless access to an existing network.
Why is this important? Well let us assume that you have setup your home network with a conventional wired router that has special settings for your ISP that allow you to specifically control access to your network with a VPN. But now you have went out purchased new laptop and want to be able to access you home network on a wired connection. Now if you throw another router into the mix there may be conflicts in your current network setup that can easily be avoided if you purchase a wireless access point instead.
Simply put a wireless access point is much like the wireless router but without DHCP functionality and a firewall. So it allows you to be able to place the access point behind an existing router firewall that is already configured on your network. Most have some added functionality and security features that some out-of-the-box wireless routers simply do not have. Additionally, wireless access points are much more simple to configure for existing networks.
Wireless routers are great additions to a home network if there is not already any stand alone routers in place. Most modern wireless routers have a standard GUI for handling both wireless security and network access. Though most have very basic functionality and will serve the purpose for a small home network.
Some internet service providers now offer modems that act as both routers and wireless access points. This can be very convenient for people that do not want the hassle of configuring a wireless router with specific network access functionality. Though most of these modems may allow this type of configuration it usually has very basic functionality and may not meet needs of some individuals.
Overall, you need to take into consideration what your need is. If you have an existing home network already setup and configured without any wireless access then the access point may be exactly what you are need to upgrade. But, if all you have is the standard ISP issued modem with no firewall capabilities then a wireless router may be the right fit for your needs.